A busy fortnight ……

It has been a very busy week. I’m working away on this anniversary booklet for ‘Mayo 200’ which needs to be at the printers in a week’s time and we’re planning to put the Blog Awards website live later this week too. I really shouldn’t be blogging at all!

It was extremely busy on the farm last week. ?Some of the calves had been poorly on and off, scouring but still drinking milk. We just got the test results back to say it was rotavirus when some calves got really sick. ?The cows were vaccinated with it a couple of weeks before calving so the calves would have immunity but when we looked into it, apparently it just protects the calves for the first 4 weeks and after that they should be hardy enough to withstand the worst of it!

We lost 3 calves and I think we would have lost more if the second vet coming out hadn’t taken such action. He even put one calf on a drip but it eventually succumbed. One of the losses was Betsy, the little Belgian blue triplet and we were both upset about her. We know that she’d probably have been going to the factory in 2 years time as she was likely to be unfertile having 2 brothers (the testosterone renders a female twin infertile if twinned with a male) but yet, she had great character and she was special as we’d never had triplets before. They seemed to carry good luck in a way. There are always a few special calves and she was one of them.

The financial loss is there as well of course – the loss of 3 calves, the vet bills, we spent about ?500 on homeopathic treatment too which seemed to help but it takes its emotional toll too as you really don’t know what you are facing everytime you walk into the shed – are there going to be more poorly? Are the sick ones going to be worse?

When the knacker came for the 3 calves, he said that one farmer had lost 23 calves to rotavirus! It could have been a lot worse and as the saying goes – ‘as long as it happens outside the house’.

I went on a farmers walk a couple of weeks ago. Brian was supposed to come too but of course, he didn’t have time to come. ?McDonalds & Marks and Spencers in conjunction with Slaney Meats (who we provide with our cattle) and other factories, are doing 6 year studies on the carbon footprints of their beef providers amongst other things. The walk was to inform farmers of new research and to see one farmer’s beef cattle. ?I ended up meeting a second cousin who only lives about 15 miles from here but I hadn’t seen him in over 20 years! If I remember the numbers correctly, Mars & Spencers and McDonalds take 7,500 cattle each week between them in the UK and Ireland (sharing the animal as each take different cuts).

By the way, there is a competition for M?na Wise’s book ‘The Chef and I’ over at my Garrendenny Lane blog – a fabulous recipe book cum autobiography – do pop over and enter.

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